Dr. S.K. Airee, professor of chemistry at the University of Tennessee at Martin, will officially retire from university service May 31 after 54 years in the classroom. Airee is UT Martin’s longest-serving faculty member.
He joined the UT Martin faculty July 7, 1965, as an assistant professor of physical sciences at the UT Martin Branch, and has seen many changes during more than five decades of service. He served on the UT Martin Faculty Senate the first year it was formed and was re-elected twice in later years. He also helped the UT Martin bachelor’s degree program in chemistry earn accreditation from the American Chemical Society.
Airee chartered the UT Martin chapter of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (now known as the Student Members of the American Chemical Society) in 1971. This chapter is the most decorated chapter in ACS history and holds more than 30 Outstanding Ratings, more than any chapter in the nation, and has received a Green Chapter Award every year since the award was created, an honor no other chapter can claim.
Under Airee’s leadership, the chapter has coordinated more than 35 high school science bowls, 30 area collegiate chemistry meetings, 30 Boy Scouts of America chemistry merit badge clinics, 20 local chemistry Olympiads, and 30 weeks of National Chemistry Week activities.
The Airee family has initiated three endowment funds – the Martin Kiwanis Award for Leadership and Service, the S.K. and Shashi Airee Scholarship, and the Monsanto SAACS Fund – to help UT Martin students fund their education.
Airee is an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Martin, and he and his wife, Shashi, have three children, all of whom are UT Martin and UT Health Science Center alumni.